Saturday, June 8, 2013

A look back...

On this date eleven years ago, I was walking down the aisle to marry the man who I thought I would spend the rest of my life with.  It was a beautifully, simple celebration and we were surrounded by loving family and friends.  We were young, a little (ok, maybe a lot) naive and ready to start our lives together as husband and wife. 

Fast forward to a little over a year ago.  A little more than a month before ten years would be celebrated.  The man who I thought I would be with forever dropped a bomb on me.  Apparently, he had been unhappy for quite a while and was not "in love" with me anymore (among many other issues he proceeded to list).  I'm honestly not sure how long my state of shock lasted.  I remember that night clearly, but the days that followed were a blur.  I was emotionally more fragile than I have ever been and it was a scary place to be. As the numbness wore off, I think I felt every emotion one could possible feel.

Anger. Disappointment. Failure. Bitterness. Sadness. Disbelief. Frustration. Shock. Miserable. Unhappy. Weakness. Fear.

When I finally processed the situation,  I offered possible solutions...anything to save what was suddenly falling apart before my eyes.  Every solution was shot down.  His mind was made up and I had to accept that.

The year that has followed that bomb has placed me on paths I never imagined I would take. Some of those paths have been painful to walk down, but the majority of them have led me into the space of some amazing people and places.  I am constantly reminded of the incredible family and friends I have.  Their support and love have helped carry me to my current situation.   And what is my current situation you might ask....

Happy. Amazing. Free. Adventurous. Relief. In Love. Joyful. Content. Brave. Strong.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bucket List: Item #1 - Hot Air Balloon Ride (part 2)

After a brief rest at the hotel room, my mom and I headed back to the festival site.  The festival itself was a typical small-town festival.  Lots of activities for the kids, a car show, food and not-so-great live music.  Truth be told, we were a bit bored waiting for the 4pm flight.

I checked in and paid for my flight around 3pm and got my pilot assignment.

We sat around for another hour or so until it was time to find my pilot.  This was a little hectic, but we finally found Roger Clark, his wife, Christie and his family and friends who made up the crew.
We talked for a few minutes while waiting for the "OK" to fly.  Once we got the "OK," it was kind of a whirlwind!

The crew picked a spot to unload everything.

photo by LSPhotography

The crew was great about explaining the whole process to me while it was happening.  Then they began to fill the balloon with cold air using a large fan.   

Then the hot fill began...

photo by LSPhotography
photo by LSPhotography
Then it was time to get in the basket.  The warned me that there was no graceful way to get in the basket.  My mom managed to capture this lovely photo of me going in.

photo by LSPhotography
At this point, my mom was brimming with excitement because she found out she could ride in the chase vehicle to take pictures.  I think she was just as excited as I was!

Within minutes, we were slowly lifting off the ground.  It was the most free feeling I have ever felt. 

photo by LSPhotography

photo by LSPhotography

We steadily lifted higher and higher and higher.

Roger and his wife were super nice and we had a wonderful conversation that jumped all over different topics.  He was great at explaining the details of how a hot air balloon works and how they are made.  Incredibly fascinating!  They were also kind enough to just let me take in the whole experience when I needed to. Just thinking back to it, I still get a little choked up.  It was a truly exhilarating experience that I would do again in a heartbeat. And, quite honestly, words don't do it justice, so I will show you more pictures from high above...

At some point we found out that the name of the balloon I was flying was "Ruah." The term "Spirit" translates the Hebrew word ruah, which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind.  How incredibly fitting for where I was mentally and spiritually at the time.

After landing in a small neighborhood (can you imagine seeing a hot air balloon land in front of your house?!), the team deflated the balloon and packed it up for the trip back to the festival site.


We piled into the pick-up truck and began the trek back.  Once we arrived at the festival site, we said our good-byes to the crew and mom and I headed to find dinner before the scheduled Balloon Glow.  We found one of the restaurants we saw in the downtown area earlier and had a delicious dinner!   We soon headed back to the festival for the Balloon Glow.  All of the hot air balloon crews set up their balloons right before dusk.  As the sun sets, they begin introducing each balloon and it's owner, etc.  When they are announced, they make the balloon "glow."  They do all kinds of different "glows" (twinkles, one at a time, etc).  It is such a beautiful sight!

I have already determined that I will definitely take another hot air balloon flight.  It was well worth the money and is truly an experience that I will treasure forever.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bucket List: Item #1 - Hot Air Balloon Ride (Part 1)

On November 2, 2012, I left work and got on the road to Charleston to meet up with my mom.  We got situated in her car and started the trek to Anderson, SC for the Balloons Over Anderson Hot Air Balloon Festival.  It took us about 4 hours to get to our hotel where we settled in for the night.

We got up at the crack of dawn with plans to find the festival site and watch the morning flight of balloons take off.  I was scheduled to fly in the afternoon flight, so this would help us get a layout of the land so that we could plan for the afternoon.  After getting very lost and mistakenly thinking that the water tower (in the shape of a hot air balloon!) was the festival site we finally figured out where to go.  I'm a little ashamed to admit that we managed to pass it at least 3 times in our search!!  oops.

We bundled up and worked up the nerve to get out of the car.  I had definitely not come prepared for the brisk, FREEZING temperatures we were encountering that morning.  We finally made the plunge and got out of the car to head to the festival site.  It was still dark and relatively quiet when we arrived, but that all changed pretty quickly.  The trucks and vans started rolling in and the balloon crews began unloading the baskets and the balloons.  It was all incredibly fascinating!!  The crews finally received the word that the wind and weather conditions were suitable for the flights to take place.  That's when they started filling the balloons...first with cool air from a fan and then with the heat of the fire.

I heard a woman tell her granddaughter that the balloons were like giants waking up as they were filled.  What a perfect analogy!  And then the first balloon lifted off -- then the second -- then the third -- soon they were all off the ground!  I was completely awestruck!  It was like being in a dream as all of the balloons lifted off and floated away.

After all of the balloons were small dots in the sky, my mom and I made the executive decision that we needed hot coffee to warm our bodies up.  We decided to go exploring since we had quite a bit of time before my 4pm flight and the festival had not really kicked up yet.  We made our way to the historic downtown area and got some mediocre coffee from a local shop.  After finishing our coffee, we decided to walk around and enjoy the downtown area.

I thought it was so cool that they had these engraved quotes on the sidewalk all through the downtown area.

 My mom and I found some new friends...

photo by LSPhotography

photo by LSPhotography

And we enjoyed some the local scenery before grabbing lunch and hitting the local Goodwill.

photo by LSPhotography
photo by LSPhotography
 Then it was time to prepare to go back to the festival for my flight! 

Monday, December 31, 2012

My Bucket List

In July, a few months after my world was shattered, I began picking up the pieces and re-shaping my world.  On my birthday, I actually volunteered for a local ultra-marathon. Yup...I know...I lead such an exciting life!  But it actually ended up being a fabulous birthday.  What was supposed to last just a few hours ended up lasting the entire day!  It was during that time that I re-connected with local runner, Gary, who happened to be facing some of the same challenges as me.  After the race, we began chatting and it was during these chats that he challenged me to look at my bucket list and GET STARTED!  And, so I did. Thank you, Gary, for continuing to inspire me to live my life to its fullest!

So, without further ado, here is my Bucket List.  No, this is not a complete list - it is definitely a work in progress. 

~ Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride - DONE! Soooooooooo AMAZING! I'll definitely be posting a recap soon!

~ See the Boston Pops Orchestra live

~ Swim with the manatees

~ Run a marathon

~ Swim under a waterfall

~ Visit Mt. Rushmore

~ Visit each of the United States and eat a cupcake in each one  :)

~ Visit Niagara Falls

~ See a concert at Carnegie Hall

~ Attend the Olympics

~ Travel to Israel

~ Travel to Paris

~ Visit the Grand Canyon

~ See the Northern Lights

~ Go on a cruise

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Goals for 2013

As the New Year approaches, I am already seeing blog posts, Facebook posts and hearing people talk about their New Years Resolutions.  Many years ago, I made a resolution to NOT make any more resolutions!

Instead, I like to set goals for myself for each year.  I'm a "word" person and the word "GOAL" seems so much more positive and do-able than the word "RESOLUTION."

Hey, don't works for me!

So, here are my goals for 2013:

~ Enjoy more live music
   After seeing some great live shows this year, both classical and not-so-classical, I was reminded of how refreshing it is to hear awesome live music.  I definitely need to seek out more of it!

~ Take more trips to visit my out-of-town friends

~ Run a marathon (maybe this will be the year to accomplish this goal!) 
   I guess I need to figure out which marathon will be my goal...hmmm.

~ Run 2-3 half marathons

~ Run multiple 5k and 10k races
   Hoping to do lots of the local races that I missed this year!

~ Work on my organization skills
   At times and with certain things, I am super organized.  With others, I am super unorganized.  So it's time for the unorganized to find some organization. 
~ Continue working on my bucket list (more to come about this...)
   I crossed one item off my list this year and it was AMAZING!  I can't wait to cross more items off! 

~ Work my Mary Kay business the way it's supposed to be worked

What are your goals for the new year? 

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Midwest Experience ~ Confirmation

I recently attended the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, IL which is always an amazing experience for all band and orchestra directors who get to attend.  I will be sharing some of the professional and personal experiences from my awesome trip this year.

A Midwest Experience ~ Confirmation

On our last evening in Chicago, I was engaged in a lively discussion about my possible choice in graduate/masters work.  Let me preface this with telling you that I haven't even begun to research schools for this.  But, it has become quite the hot topic of conversation with others who are beginning to push me to make the jump into my masters degree.  So, for years, I have wanted to do my masters work in Curriculum and Assessment.  Yes you read that correctly.  Not music.  General education Curriculum and Assessment.  I know, I know...apparently, this is a travesty according to some of my fellow music educators, especially the ones who work at the collegiate level.

So, back to this conversation.  The gentleman I was speaking to is a collegiate band director and, of course, he went there.  I had already learned that he quite the "sparrer" when it comes to conversation about any topic; he likes to play Devil's Advocate and does it to truly make you think about what you're saying and not necessarily to offend you.  So, when he asked me about my master's degree and I responded, he took it and ran and ran.  And he made quite a few valid points, although, he did manage to twist my words a bit so that he could play the Devil's Advocate.  And, I admit, that at some point in the conversation, I just kind of shut down.  I sometimes have a hard time expressing myself vocally in those kinds of situations and I find it in my best interest to listen and nod so as not to become a twisted mess of words.  And, if I'm being completely honest, he did make me think...but he also made me realize that I am more confident in my choice than I thought I was. He actually led me to the confirmation I have been looking for. 

Apparently, my lack of desire to study music education could be seen as offensive to other music educators.  And my lack of desire to learn more music theory and conducting is detrimental for my students' education and for me as a music educator.  And don't I realize that if I do a masters in music education, I would probably only have to take ONE theory class, etc, etc.   Then I made the mistake of saying that I wanted something to "fall back on" other than music education.  Apparently, this would be offensive to many music educators since music is what they fell back on. The argument continued.

Here's my take on it.

I love music.  I love education.  They are my life and my passions.  Anyone who knows me knows this.  On the other side of the coin, I truly enjoy learning about Curriculum and Assessment...but NOT just in the realm of music education.  You see, I was first inspired to look at this path by a Curriculum Specialist who had a background in Visual Arts.  I watched her make the Fine Arts relevant to the core educators in my small, rural school.  She was able to encourage and support them in incorporating the arts into their classrooms.  And she was able to encourage and inspire me to challenge myself as a Fine Arts teacher.  She was able to fight for the arts in a different way, from a different position.

This is what I would enjoy doing if I wasn't a band director.  So many times, we music educators get caught in our big bubble of music education and we can't understand why those people outside of our bubble (administrators, core teachers, guidance counselors, etc) don't "get" us.  We can't see past our bubble and they can't see inside our bubble, nor can they understand why we're in our bubble and what's so special inside there.  And, so we are left fighting the same fight every school year.  We are constantly fighting for others to recognize the importance of our Fine Arts in the schools.  

When you have someone who is educated on Curriculum and Assessment AND has a Fine Arts background, I think it would start to open more doors for others in the Fine Arts.  I want to be able to make Fine Arts relevant to other educators and administrators.  Sometimes, to gain the respect of those that are not in our specific field, we have to cross over into their fields.  Not many are willing to do this.  Who better to break down the importance of the Fine Arts to a core educator that someone who has studied and respects BOTH the Fine Arts and the Core Curriculum.

Will my students suffer from my lack of a Masters Degree in Music Education or Music Theory or Conducting?  I don't think so.  I am a damn good teacher, but I am well aware that I have much to learn and I am constantly finding learning opportunities so that I can become a better music educator.  I don't have to have a Masters Degree in some kind of music in order to continue being a great music educator.  

And, in the end, who cares if someone is offended by my reasons for furthering my education in the direction that makes me happy? Who cares if I am not taking what is considered the "normal path" beyond my bachelors degree?  Why should anyone care if I want something a little different to fall back on?  I am a music educator.  Not only is it my job to educate children in the field of music, but I also feel responsible for educating my "education peers" about the importance of music education and the other fine arts.  I am going to pursue what makes ME happy and content. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Grand Re-Opening of Dolce. Con Spirito.

A lot can happen in a year and a half...and it truly has for me.  My life has changed in so many ways and it has been a tough road with lots of road blocks and speed bumps.  I'm in a very different place now and it is time for my blog to reflect that place. 

So, I declare this the official grand re-opening of this blog.  Here is what to expect in the near future:

First of all....why Dolce. Con Spirito?  - The title of the blog is taken from musical terms. Dolce means "sweetly."  Con Spirito means "with spirit; brilliantly."  I feel this is a pretty good description of me and my life.

I love music and education, so I will be sharing my thoughts and opinions and maybe even a few stories from my experience as a band director. 

I love running...most of the time...and I enjoy working out...most of the time!  As I explore new workouts and hopefully begin training for my first marathon, I plan to share those with you, too. 

I love cupcakes.  They've become a bit of an obsession.  (Which means I really need to workout and run more...)  Any time I visit a new city or state, I am on the hunt for a cupcake shop to try out.  So, because I'm such a nice person, I'll be sharing my opinions about said cupcake shops.

And, of course, I'll be sharing some of the goings-on in my life.  Some things you might find interesting; others you'll probably want to skim over and that is perfectly fine with me.

So, welcome back to anyone who was already following me and welcome to anyone who is visiting for the first time!